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Performance-related stress mediates the online control and integration of sequential movements

Goddard, N and Roberts, JW (2020) Performance-related stress mediates the online control and integration of sequential movements. Acta Psychologica, 208. ISSN 0001-6918

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The effects of stress on directing attention within performance have been broadly explained by self-focus and distraction perspectives, where stress causes attention to be drawn internally or toward the sources of worry, respectively. Recent studies that have adopted manual aiming under different levels of stress have illuminated our understanding of the stress-performance framework. The present study seeks to elaborate on this current trend by introducing a sequential task, where the integration of individual movement segments enhances the demands on preparation and control, and thus closely examines the explanatory power of the self-focus and distraction perspectives. This study involved executing aiming movements solely to one-target (1T), or continuing by extending (2TE) and reversing (2TR) the limb to a second target. Participants were instructed to simply execute rapid and accurate movements (low-stress), and additionally provided a socio-comparative stressor (high-stress). While there was no one- (1T vs. 2TE) or two-target (1T vs. 2TR) advantage, there was a shorter movement time in the first segment of the one-target task that appeared to dissipate when under high-stress. In addition, the high-stress conditions caused shorter reaction and pause times, while the proportion of the sequence time decreased within the pause, but increased within the second segment. Consequently, the overall sequence time failed to differ between low- and high-stress. These findings indicate that the online control of movement is accommodated under high-stress. We suggest these procedures unfold following a primary focus to uphold the performance outcome. Thus, these findings appear to be consistent with the distraction perspective.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1701 Psychology, 1702 Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 26 May 2020 10:05
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 15:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103105
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13000
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